Little iLEADers preschool opens to community

Rosa Pedvin, left, and Dani Hughson, right, have worked to open the Little iLEADers Early Childhood Learning Center in Castaic and Antelope Valley. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

After a year of planning and preparation, the Little iLEADers Early Childhood Learning Center will welcome its first group of students to its facilities in Castaic and Antelope Valley Monday.

The preschool for children ages 18 months to 5 years old is following the viewpoints of iLEAD and Santa Clarita Valley International (SCVi) charter school, allowing students to make an easy transition from preschool to childhood education.

“We’re following the same philosophy as iLEAD,” said Rosa Pedvin, program director for Little iLEADers. “So by the time they leave us they’re going into an environment that is familiar for them.”

Little iLEADers’ curriculum is focused on real-life experiences, relationship-based and social-emotional learning and purposeful play.

“iLEAD is known for project-based learning which isn’t really age-appropriate for preschool; however, we’re implementing the same idea but with play,” said Dani Hughson, a lead teacher at Little iLEADers. “With very open-ended play, the children are free to make choices and are free to learn at their own pace.”

Hughson said her role as a teacher will be to facilitate play and encourage them to use materials, be creative and make their own choices through sensory objects, art, nature objects and other items.

“[I will be] seeing what they’re into and what the class is moving toward and elaborating off of that,” she said.

The curriculum will also follow the students’ own pace to promote a lifelong love of learning.

“We’ve gotten away from the traditional schedule,” Pedvin said. “We’re making it so you have so many options and then you naturally transition instead of a bell going off and now it’s time for you to move.”

Hughson said this philosophy of moving at the children’s own pace is what makes Little iLEADers different from other early childhood education centers in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“Our philosophy is a lot different. Children end up learning more when you listen to them and you move at their pace,” she said. “I think we’re different because we don’t have a set schedule and it’s not an uphill battle. We’re listening to the children and moving at their pace.”

Pedvin noted that the preschool is also different because it provides continuous transition from early childhood education to elementary school at SCVi.

“Usually when preschool is over you move on to another environment, but here we’re keeping it familiar and an easier transition for the learners and their families,” Pedvin said.

For Little iLEADers two locations in Castaic and Antelope Valley, capacity is set a 64 and 50, respectively. According to Pedvin, more than 100 parents expressed interest in the program thus far.

“We have different schedules available with Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and two days a week so at any time we’re able to have that amount of children,” Pedvin said.

The preschool is also offering tours of the facility with Pedvin and Hughson at its Castaic location, at 28040 Hasley Canyon Road, on Tuesdays at 9 a.m.

“It’s nice because they’re able to meet an actual staff member and see the environment,” Pedvin said.

So far, the response to the new preschool has been positive from parents in the community.

“I think that they are really impressed,” Pedvin said. “For so long we have been talking about this program… Their enthusiasm has changed since they see it is now a reality.”

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